Sonic LAB: Moog Slim Phatty Analog Synth

The most affordable Moog yet      15/03/11

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10:40 mins


I think I should make a confession - I have never owned a Moog anything, nor spent quality time with much Moog gear in the past - apart from some original Moog modules - which did sound pretty amazing I might add.

The Slim Phatty is at the other end of the scale price wise - it being the most affordable Moog Synthesizer in the current range. With more than a passing resemblance to the Little Phatty Stage II (different buttons), it features the same voice and editing system.
With a single voice, its a 100% analog (if you dont count the LCD) synthesizer, its forged from the classic Moog voice structure. 2 OSC, 1LFO, 1 Low Pass Filter (1-4 poles selectable) and 2 Envelopes. Its a simple enough synthesizer to use.

Right out of the box, it feels well built, with sturdy metal case (can be rack mounted, or fitted with wooden end cheeks - both optional extras). Plenty of status lights and four distinct synthesizer sections, each with various selector buttons and a single knob to edit the currently selected parameter - a simple and elegant solution to cutting the cost of real knobs. These are not rotary encoders as they have end stops - their behaviour can be modified to suit (snap, pass-through, track modes), they feel plenty sturdy enough to take a vigorous tweaking.

Additionally, there’s a two row LCD for patch name display (100 programs plus four performance chains of 8 programs) and various extra parameter access handled by a cursor key and rotary-push encoder. Master tune, glide and octave switch also live in this section. At the other end main output and master out mute - does not effect headphone out.

Connections are on the rear panel - Three prong standard mains - 110-240v, MIDI in, out , through, Control voltage inputs - you can run this synth from other analog gear: Gate In, CV in, Filter CV in and Vol CV in.

Audio In jack, output jack and headphone out. Plus a USB connector for accessing the built-in MIDI CV interface complete the connections.

Power Up
Each of the two oscilators have variable waveforms from Triangle through Sawtooth, Square and Pulse Width. They sound pretty fulsome, this is the real deal - plenty of bottom end and buzz to filter down for harmonically rich sounds. Feed them through the filter and now you have the classic Moog paring with a very smooth and rich sounding sweep - resonance brings out some lovely broken harmonics and can really scream. Add the O.L. (Over Load) - this hardwires the old Mini Moog effect of routing the headphone out back into the external input to drive the filter into distortion. It sounds lovely and warm and fuzzy - a real treat.  In short it sounds like classic Mini Moog.

With such a solid foundation to build on the modulation section gives you several routings:
Mod Sources: LFO TRI, SAW, rev SAW, SQ, ENV 2, OSC 2, plus S&H and noise - accessed via Advanced parameters in the Master section.
Mod Destinations: Filter, Pitch, OSC 1+2 Wave, OSC 2 pitch. A second mod destination can be setup  in Advanced parameters.

You may have pricked some interest at the mention of Noise, but alas you cannot use it as an OSC wave source, just for modulation.

Easter Eggs
Did I mention the arpeggiator? Yep, theres a simple clockable arp with UP/DOWN/ORDER modes with  octave range, clock divide  and Loop,single mode playback.
A couple of other nice features - press and hold the mod amount button - it flashes - you can now dial in the mod amount rather than use the Mod wheel. Press and hold the LFO rate button - tap tempo for the LFO and the arpeggiator. Its also possible to map the front panel pots to external MIDI controllers for use with external gear.

Bottom Line
Its a very different method of sound creation with an analog synth, its like a living instrument, more so than VA or computer based one. With such compelling building blocks to work with you’ll find yourself  enjoying this synth, it behaves like an instrument and invites real-time control. It also has a massive propensity for bass and screaming dirty sounds when using the filter O.L. param. Sure you can get the classic Moog tones, but this is so much more than the Lucky Man Solo.

It aint cheap, but its a Moog, and the most affordable one in the range. If you feel there’s something missing in your life, it might just be this.

Prices: £699, $845, €849 RRP - cheaper if you shop around.



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19 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
grimley    Said...

Still no IOS compatible video? Any chance this is something you plan adding in the future Nick?

15-Mar-11 10:49 AM

Nick B    Said...

Hi Grimley, I will look into that.

15-Mar-11 12:53 PM

Nick B    Said...

How about now? (See iPad/iPhone link)

15-Mar-11 01:02 PM

L56    Said...

Thanks Nick! Works great on iPhone and iPad! Now i'm off to watch the review!

15-Mar-11 02:51 PM

Marc JX8P    Said...

Great review, Nick! Thx for including the Euro price this time. ;-)

It sounds wonderful, even on this medium. The only thing that bugs me a bit is the control scheme; while it does work and is very intuitive, it seems like a bit of an obstruction when you want to manipulate related parameters (such as frq/res and att/rel). Or is there a way to set these up with the other pots on it?

15-Mar-11 02:52 PM

Juicy Audio Productions    Said...

great review nick..cover's everything in the instrument.

On the moog theme, any chance of a voyager XL review. As happy as i am with the voyager i own, id love to see/hear what you guys think of one, rather than fish around on youtube for some demos ( if there are any, that is)



15-Mar-11 04:44 PM

Mat    Said...

Thing of beauty? Hardly. It's a box. I have the Stage I, which does have a certain charm although having wanted a Moog for ages, I do still struggle with the Moog sound... it's so dominant that you have to work hard to contain it and incorporate the sound in a mix without swamping everything else.

15-Mar-11 05:29 PM

SteveFromBerlin    Said...

Great review - as always - I love what you are doing here for us GearSlutz and you shure set a new standard.

Looking forward to the second video where you'll show more nasty sounds!

15-Mar-11 05:45 PM

Nick B    Said...

Well eye of the beholder and all that. Regarding the moog sound, I agree - it can be so massive that all your other sounds can shrivel by comparisson and it can be harder to fit into a mix. But I guess that's what EQ is for.

15-Mar-11 05:54 PM

DBM    Said...

@Nick B You might look around in the menu mode a bit more as I think you can switch the filter pole settings ...1/2/3/4 respectively ( as it is in the LP ) . Anyway Nice review

15-Mar-11 09:19 PM

grimley    Said...

Great review Nick! And thanks for the IOS compatible vid.

15-Mar-11 09:30 PM

Benedict Johnson    Said...

Well done for recommending supporting your local music store! Now more than ever.

Looking forward to the Nord Stage 2 review (...? please!)

15-Mar-11 11:14 PM

Ben    Said...

Nice review!!! Thanks for the Ipad change on the site too. If you ar doing a sound series for the LP, can you try sending a dry wave from the venom inside the LP filter? Jst to give an idea. I really like your video and now your sounds series. Perhaps some "standart" (midi) sequence would help us to compare synths.

16-Mar-11 08:40 AM

Peter K.    Said...

I have a Little Phatty Tribute, and you CAN do pot mapping with it. This should be available for the SP as well. Also, you can use Noise as an audio source... it's in the Advanced Preset menu. I think it's in lieu of one of the oscillators... can't remember.

16-Mar-11 09:56 PM

Peter K.    Said...

Also... I forgot...

You can download the manual off of Moog's web site.

16-Mar-11 10:02 PM

Nick B    Said...

Peter K re Noise - Not as an OSC source in the SP - I confirmed this with moog - you can use it as an LFO mod source

17-Mar-11 03:38 AM

Paul L    Said...

OT: Hey, Nick. Are you the same Nick Batt that worked in the Chriysalis studio off Oxford St. in the 80s?

17-Mar-11 04:39 PM

Nick B    Said...

Nope, not me, I may have been in there once for a session, cant remember but not regularly - more likely in 89/90

18-Mar-11 05:48 PM

Paul    Said...

Hi How did you distort the drum loop pre slim phatty? Did you run it through a pre amp 1st? If running an audio signal from the computer direct to the slim would you not get digital distortion generated by the clipping in the software before it got to the slim?!

24-Sep-13 12:52 PM

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